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Transparency actually: how transparency affects public perceptions of political decision-making

  • Jenny de Fine Licht (a1)

Building on a widely held account of transparency as integral to legitimate and successful governance, this article addresses the question of how transparency in decision-making can influence public perceptions of political decision-making. An original experiment with 1099 participants shows that people who perceive political decision-making to be transparent judge the degree of procedural fairness highly and are more willing to accept the final decision. Perceptions of transparency are, however, largely shaped by transparency cues (e.g. statements provided by external sources) rather than by the degree of actual transparency, and no direct effect of actual transparency can be found on decision acceptance. The implication is that it is difficult to influence people's acceptance of political decisions by means of transparency reforms, as people base their assessments of political decisions largely on considerations other than evalutations of actual decision-making procedures.

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